The revisited Belle Vivier by Gherardo Felloni.

PARIS — “He practically invented everything, that’s why I’m feeling really, ‘Gasp!’” said Gherardo Felloni as the latest creative director to step into the shoes of footwear legend, Roger Vivier.

The seasoned shoe designer, who has held positions at brands including Helmut Lang, Fendi, Dior and Miu Miu, today will present his debut official collection for the Tod’s Group-owned house, one successfully bridging its past and future.

The collection will be unveiled in a hotel particulier on Rue de l’Abbé-de-L’Épée, dubbed Hotel Vivier, with Felloni looking to create a “cinematographic experience” through a series of mise-en-scène throughout the site’s rooms.

While easing into his new role, Felloni, who succeeds Bruno Frisoni, the shoe guru who held the position for 16 years and is synonymous with the revival of the famed French footwear brand, first wanted to tackle the biggest challenge: rethinking a house icon, the Belle Vivier pump. The result is a shoe that is closer to the original buckled, patent leather design famously sported by Catherine Deneuve in the 1967 movie “Belle de Jour,” so more retro in feel, with a chunkier last, but with a larger, more square-shaped buckle and a practical new cube-shaped spin on Vivier’s signature Virgule heel. “[Vivier] was always playing with shapes. If you see all of the shoes that he did, you’ll never see a banal heel,” Felloni said.

Styles in the new Très Vivier collection include a bootie and a mannish loafer with a dandy vibe. “I didn’t get to meet Roger Vivier in the Sixties, but I can only imagine his starting point was the court of Louis XIV,” said Felloni, who has included matching belts and bags, and a chic men’s tuxedo shoe, a first for the house. He hopes to grow the men’s line.

More Marie-Antoinette in feel — “I think [Vivier] was obsessed with baroque shoes” — are a pair of to-die-for jacquard slingback pumps with a pointy last, strass buckle and kitten heel — Vivier’s signature heel height.

Deliveries for the line will start in November.

The Maharaja slingback.

The Maharaja slingback.  Courtesy

“It’s an explosion of what he did,” said Felloni gesturing to the Maharaja slingback embellished with a spray of ostrich feathers, and a pair of pink satin mary janes with rose bud embellishments. For a Sixties-flavored bright pink mule with a rhinestone buckle, he used the square last invented by Vivier.

Gherardo Felloni

Gherardo Felloni  Courtesy

In terms of recent career moves, Felloni relocated to Paris 10 years ago to head up the women’s shoe collections at Dior — under then-creative directors John Galliano and Raf Simons, respectively — before returning to Miu Miu in 2014 as design director of footwear, leather goods and jewelry. Now back in Paris, this is his first job in the spotlight.

Inès de la Fressange, Roger Vivier’s brand ambassador, has been helping him settle in, he said. “I was like, oh my God, what’s she going to think of me, a little country boy arriving from Italy,” Felloni said.

He’s already relooked his office, with in the corner a copy of Greek Adonis statue acquired from an auction by Les Ateliers du Louvre. Placed in one of his hands is a pink kitten-heel slipper.

A set of retro shelves stocked with boxes of vintage Vivier shoes — “to soak up the Vivier atmosphere” — have been repainted a special shade, “a mix of Barbier pink and coral,” that will figure among Felloni signatures. There’s a set of vintage teapots for when he hosts guests, and an oil painting of a little dog. “I’m obsessed with ugly little dogs,” the exuberant designer said with a chuckle. “He’s my lucky charm.”

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